Friday, November 27, 2009

Back In The Wintec Again

I got to ride again on Wednesday. Hooray! We discovered that the Wintec gullet gauge (a plastic thingy that you use to measure your horse's withers to see which gullet you should put in your saddle...the Wintecs are adjustable) is completely stupid and wrong, as Sofie measured out as a Medium according to the gullet gauge. And as far as her withers go, that's probably not too far off. She doesn't have terribly wide withers. But the saddle doesn't go on the withers. And Sofie may have Medium withers, but her shoulders are Extra Wide. We threw away the gullet gauge (well, not literally, but we stopped paying attention to it) and put in the Extra Wide gullet, which made the saddle sit more level (before, it was way high in front, which I now know to be a sign of a saddle that is too narrow), and it really helped alleviate some of the pressure on her shoulders. It's still not perfect, but it is a lot better, and she still has wither clearance, and the saddle stays put. So it appears that the Wintec will work until we can find a more ideal saddle for Sofie. I sent off some photos to Kitt Hazelton, a saddle fitter based in Vermont, who has an awesome blog... I have learned a lot about saddle fitting from this blog, so I am excited to see Sofie evaluated, as we don't have any good saddle fitters up here. We do have a woman who will stick a pressure-testing pad under your saddle and then try to sell you a $300"corrective" pad...been there, done that, it was a disaster, and I ain't goin' there again. But that's a story for another post.

Sofie says: "What's all this fuss about saddle fitting? Just don't ride me. THERE, problem solved."

My ride was pretty good. Sofie was obviously feeling better (and she doesn't have a parasite problem; the fecal came back negative) and I enjoyed a nice walk/trot ride. We were in the indoor due to rain (which cleared out as soon as I was DONE riding...) but there was a lesson going on, so Sofie had stuff to look at. She was stiff to the right (only did a bit of trotting on that side), and really wanted to fall in when tracking left (an ongoing issue for helped when I remembered to hold my hands wide apart like you would with a green horse - which she basically is), but she was pretty good. It felt like I built some trust (I lost some faith in her after the bucking incident...I was bucked off a lesson horse years ago, which was a major trauma for me, and it took me years to become confident again), and she seemed to get happier as the ride went on. I was really happy with her. Even though she has aches and pains and stiffness, she still went forward and was responsive (unlike the other horse in the ring who has had tons of dressage training, but is so dull she needs to be kicked so hard it makes an audible "thud"). Yes, I have a good horse. Not a perfect horse, but a good one, and that's all I need.

Here's a short video of me riding Sofie in the Wintec. This was from the day she wasn't feeling so good.

Sofie's trim went well, except that Anne said she was a couple weeks overdue (barefoot trimmers want to trim horses before there is any significant growth, which is more natural for the horse. I knew that, but I didn't think there had been any significant growth. Ah well.). Sofie was less of an impatient little beastie than she usually is (it helped that we fed her hay snacks, and there were people wandering around for her to watch). Actually, towards the end of the trim she really relaxed and practically fell asleep.

And we didn't have to hold that beastly gelding, either, as another boarder who likes to help out with stuff like that volunteered to do it so we could get home. So that was great. We got "nice points" for volunteering, but we didn't have to get killed. Booyah.


  1. As far as the wintec gullet guage it is normally accurate. If you have the booklet it says "Place the saddle on your horses back, in the correct riding position and make not of a reference point directly underneath the saddle nail." If the saddle is being put in the right spot it should not be close to the withers at all but in fact an average of 2-4 fingers behind the scapula. Of course there is no one size fits all of saddles, even if you just change the gullet the tree is still a medium.

  2. That's exactly why I want to get her a saddle with a wider tree. I have no doubt that the Wintec is an imperfect fit, but the wider gullet made the front of the flaps fit her shoulders much better. Since the shoulders are one of her "problem area" with regards to soreness, this is an important fitting consideration for her.

  3. Yeah, with my Wintec (I love it, because it was cheap, it looks good, it's easy to take care of, and I didn't kill a cow!) I measured out where the saddle would sit with a long piece of pipe cleaner then traced it out on a piece of cardboard and cut it out. It was very handy when saddle shopping because you could just stick it up into the gullet and see if it fit!

    I love what you said: "I have a good horse. Not a perfect horse, but a good one, and that's all I need." :)